Thursday, July 12, 2012


I come from the land of privatized healthcare where you sort of get to choose your own doctor, demand things, and your tidy little insurance policy that you've been paying into will cover all of it (or in my case, I covered the first $200 for every person in our family, and then 10% after that).

I can't complain.  My job offered what I believed to be pretty good health insurance.  I had a few complaints of course - like they wouldn't cover any sort of birth control or infertility - like you couldn't even mention fertility at your doctor's appointment, or you would be charged full price for them to tell you to "try charting for 6 more months and we'll see where you are then." But, for the most part...I can't complain.

First of all - let me be clear - this is NOT a post about the government's recent decision about U.S. healthcare.  In fact, I'm so disconnected from it that I have no idea what is even going on over there.  Friends, at this moment I get all of my U.S. news from Facebook, so please don't assume that I have a clue about what is even going on.  (Which is irresponsible - I admit.)  If you want to email me about how irresponsible that is, then expect an email back with the list of things I did yesterday, which were way more important to me - like catching bugs, painting rocks, and cuddling.

This post is more about the differences between my pregnancy experiences.  My first experience was in the U.S. - Peoria, IL - to be exact -  and was lovely.

My second was/is in the UK - Northern Ireland - to be exact - and is a learning experience.

There are many things that are similar and many things that are different.  These may just be differences between the practices I went to, or they may be international differences - I'm still not sure.  I just think they're interesting to note.
  1. This may have just been my practice back home, but we had a really pretty dimly lit waiting room with fabulous magazines.  Here - think minimalistic with two magazines that have been read and reread by millions.
  2. I have to carry my pee in a cup to the doctor.  Yup.  You heard that right.  I have to carry it around in my purse - in the zippered pocket between my chapstick and pens.  (Don't worry - if you ever ask to borrow a pen, it is in a separate zippered department.)  I'm still trying to figure out why they can't just have me do it there.  I mean, every appointment they give me a cup for the next appointment, and they are in a very obtainable spot to where they could give me the cup as soon as I walked in the door.  Trust me - I'm not lacking the ability to produce a sample on command these days.
  3. They haven't weighed me once, or done an internal exam since I've been pregnant in this pregnancy.  It makes me wonder why they do them back home so frequently.  In fact, I have yet to get undressed for a doctor.
  4. I've only met my OB twice.  The second time was on Tuesday.  If everything keeps going well, then I may meet him one more time, but everything else (including delivery) will be done by a midwife.
  5. The midwife I see at every appointment will not deliver me.  In fact, she doesn't even go to the hospital where I will have the baby.
  6. I haven't paid anything, and will not pay anything for this entire pregnancy - including my prescriptions, dental appointments, delivery and epidural.  The only thing they would charge me for a a private room (see #6).
  7. I have to share a ward with possibly 5 other women after the baby is born - unless I want to pay around $50 for my own room - which I'm seriously considering because I'm a spoiled brat that doesn't like social interaction after giving birth. And if this birth is even half of what the last one was, everyone will wonder when the bride of Frankenstein walked in the door, and when the witch was going to leave. I know this isn't the case with every hospital where we're from, but mine had private rooms, which was really nice if you're as tired as I was and plan on staying the night.
  8. I can go home within hours of the birth if I choose to.
  9. They endorse home births here.
  10. They promote epidurals as a complete last resort.  In fact, the first informational DVD I watched from the hospital told me that they can only guarantee an epidural to be performed between 9:00 and 5:00 during the weekdays.  This was all the motivation I needed to sign up for a birthing class just so I could CLARIFY that this was in fact false.  You'll all be happy to know that the DVD was outdated and I can get an epidural at 1:00 a.m. on a Sunday if I want to. 
  11. They also offer water births.  I know quite a few places in the U.S. do this, but my hospital didn't.
  12. I have to take my own diapers to the hospital for the baby.
  13. I'm going to take a shot in the dark and assume that they won't give me a free giant water bottle with shaved ice and the hospital logo when I get there.
  14. They promote eating during labor and even bring you tea and toast... although I don't remember being hungry during labor - mostly just tired, angry, and nauseous.  
  15. I never had to make emergency appointments with my last pregnancy, but this time I have had to make one because of some severe pains I was feeling.  I was amazed at how they got me in within the hour, ordered a series of tests, and responded really openly to my concerns.  (Nothing was wrong of course - I'm just a big baby.) 
  16. Oh yeah...and their maternity leave?  The government helps to pay for it, and it is usually a minimum of 6 months - although that doesn't apply to me. :)
That's all I can think of so far.  Most of my hang-ups in the beginning were because I was too afraid to ask questions, or to ask for things because I wasn't sure how the system worked.

Everything seems to be going as planned. Only a little over a month. Yikes.


neitinomad said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Ok. So. I don't know about the whole Europe but I can compare some things with the Finnish system. I've also never had babies but trust me, several friends have (this week so far only one, 17 days overdue!). So here is what I know:

1. This is a difference between public and private. At home the private practices subscribe magazines, the public ones get donations. I usually take my old magazines to the eye clinic or youth ward.

2. At home you'd do this in the health centre.

3. At home they definitely do weigh people. And they let you know if the weight is developing in a normal way.

4. and 5. I have no idea who people go and see before the actual labour, but a midwife delivers the baby and a doctor is available if needed.

6. I think the check-ups are free (it depends if they are seen as the baby's check-ups or the mum's) and then you pay something like 30-35 euros a day for the time in the hospital. Usually people stay 2-5 days in the hospital, first-timers longer than more experienced ones. First-timers have better chances of getting a family room (where the dad stays too) but usually people share. 5 seems to be a big number to share though.

9. Nobody will ever suggest or recommend home births in Finland. In fact, one has to cover all the expenses by themself. Waterbirths and similar things are available in some hospitals but not everywhere.

12. Nappies you'd get from the hospital! In Finland you get also a pack of essentials, you can see the content of this year's package here: The box can be used as a bed too. And if you don't want it, you can get 140 euros instead.

And the Finnish maternity leave is 9 months, not full pay though.

Tiffany said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@neitinomad Thanks! I love hearing about the differences now that I've experienced two places already. Maybe I'll just keep traveling around having babies and trying out different systems. :) Okay. Maybe that's a terrible idea.